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[“Two great tastes that taste good together.” This was the slogan for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups during the 1970s and 1980s. It resulted from two fictitious persons, one eating peanut butter while the other was eating chocolate, colliding into one another and inadvertently mixing their snacks together. They felt that is was a fortuitous accident and, thus, became the origin to the aforementioned slogan. I’m sure if you don’t remember seeing it “back in the day” that you have seen it parodied, at least. Today’s article is a “mashup” from my relatively new nightly regimen of preparing my body for sleep by reading the bible and then listening to my iPod. It so happens that I had been reading from Hosea before then listening to “Dazed and Confused” covered by Led Zeppelin on their debut album. I was amazed to discover that the two complimented one another in a way I found surprising. That discovery was the impetus for today’s offering. Trust me…it will make sense. 🙂 ]

Hosea witnessing his wife's "deeds."

Been dazed and confused for so long, it’s not true,

Wanted a woman, never bargained for you.

Lots of people talk and few of them know,

Soul of a woman was created below. Yeah!

You hurt and abused tellin’ all of your lies,

Run around sweet baby, …how “they” hypnotize.

Sweet little baby, I don’t know where you’ve been,

Gonna love you baby, here I come again.

Every day I work so hard

Bringin’ home my hard earned pay

Try to love you baby, but you push me away.

Don’t know where you’re goin’

Only know just where you’ve been,

Sweet little baby, I want you again.

Been dazed and confused for so long, it’s not true,

Wanted a woman, never bargained for you.

Take it easy baby, let them say what they will.

Will your tongue wag so much when I send you the bill?

(“Dazed and Confused,” written by Jake Holmes)

The above lyrics to the song “Dazed and Confused” serve as a good “pew-sitter’s” commentary for the book of Hosea. Hosea was the prophet of God who wanted a woman but was commanded by God to marry one for which he had never bargained. She was a prostitute named, Gomer. Gomer was to be the personification of the spiritual relationship existent between God and His people during Hosea’s day. Thus, Hosea almost never knew where she was, only where she had been. As Gomer had children, Hosea bestowed names upon them given by God that seem to imply, beyond the obvious meaning that resulted from Israel’s spiritual adultery, that Hosea, himself, was not certain whether he was their father. To me, this is what makes Hosea’s story so tragic.

Perhaps for a short time, during what we might call the “honeymoon period,” they had a good relationship. We simply do not know. Putting myself in Gomer’s “shoes,” I can imagine that it would seem difficult to conceive that one could love me despite my past promiscuity. Perhaps, she found Hosea’s proposal novel and exciting. Maybe she intended to be faithful to him who, inexplicably, chose to love her. If that was the case, any decision to be faithful to Hosea was short lived. Moreover, I can “wear Hosea’s shoes.” “I know what she has been,” Hosea may have told himself, “but she will be grateful for the love of one who will love her for who she is and not just as an object of gratification.”

However, Hosea was soon able to empathize with God’s perception as He dealt with the adulterous kingdom of Israel. God was certainly “dazed and confused” by His chosen people. “How so,” asks the skeptic, “seeing that God is omniscient?” God knows all things but the human condition is something to which He does not naturally relate. Remember, His thoughts and ways are above our own (cf. Isaiah 55:8-9). Jesus had to put on the robe of flesh in order to become a “faithful High priest” (cf. Hebrews 2:17); that is to say, our Mediator. Imagine if you had the power of creation, and had created that which was similar to you, yet so far beneath you. Would you be able to understand that creature’s way of living and thinking? Parents, do you fully understand even your children made in your own image? Thus, as with the later incarnation of Jesus, Hosea became God’s surrogate, experiencing emotions with which God was not accustomed and, then, articulating God’s grief and pain in a manner we lowly humans could better understand.

Hosea must have likewise been as dazed and confused as God had been. Dazed and confused, initially, by God’s insistence that He marry a prostitute, later, by her refusal to remain faithful to him, and, above all, the fact that he somehow maintained his love for her. (There are commentators that think she did not prostitute herself until after she had married Hosea. This seems doubtful, though, considering that in Hosea 1:2 God explicitly tells Hosea: “Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the LORD” [NASB].)

I suppose that prophets, like “modern” preachers, were not the top income earners of their day. Therefore, a profit motive may have led to Gomer’s infidelity. It is doubtful that Hosea could have enabled her to live as lavishly as she had done prior to her marriage to him. We conclude that ancient prostitutes made a good living plying their trade by studying ancient Mesopotamian and Greek records. For example, the Code of Hammurabi, contemporaneous with the patriarch Abraham, included laws protecting a prostitute’s inheritance rights.[1] In Greek society, prostitutes were often influential women paying high taxes.[2] (This latter statement makes me wonder if some of the “prominent women” converted in the New Testament were once prostitutes themselves as this may have been their only option to receiving prominence in a society that treated women as chattel. Perhaps this phrase was a type of code used in Biblical times to identify prostitutes discreetly, especially considering that their decision to follow Christ meant leaving that trade.) As such, I suppose Hosea may have felt as if he had brought home his hard-earned pay to one who only pushed him away.

Maybe Gomer was afflicted with what today is termed a “sexual addiction.” Certainly, God made sex enjoyable. He, however, intended that married couples share this enjoyment only. Beyond the condemnation of premarital sex, labeled as “fornication” or “sexual immorality” in the Bible, we find this admonition from the Hebrews writer:

Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge. (Hebrews 13:4 NASB)

We witness “sexual addiction” in adults who were sexually molested as children and who have, unfortunately, equated the sexual act with love. We also note the behavior in the psychologically assaulted. This form of assault, to which I refer, presented itself in the form of pornography imposed on the individual during his or her sexual development. The result of the latter is certainly pervasive as well as perverse in its portrayal of sex in a manner never intended by God, as something that frequently happens between strangers, enjoyed by multiple partners, and acceptable between two people of the same gender. According to research, exposure to some type of pornographic material via the Internet is a common occurrence among those between 10 and 17 years of age. [3] It is unknown, of course, if Gomer was a victim of sexual predation or not. It is just that sometimes prostitution is an indicator of such.

Alternatively, Gomer may have found herself in a position in which she had felt that prostitution was her only viable means of self-support prior to her marriage to Hosea. This would seem unlikely as she had a father named, “Diblaim,” identified in Hosea 1:3. (“Disblaim” is masculine; therefore, the indication that he is Gomer’s father.) As she was living “under his roof,” it is unlikely that she would have needed to support herself by prostituting herself. It is more probable that Gomer plied her trade in devotion to a pagan deity. Synonymous to the ancient world, was prostitution and religious devotion. The Sumerian civilization, considered by scholars to be the world’s first civilization, predating even the Egyptians, likely gave rise to this practice.[4] Does this not make sense, given that Israel had made God a “spiritual cuckold” in her worship of pagan gods such as Baal and Ashtoreth? As Israel was an unfaithful wife, giving herself “bodily” to the gods of Canaan, Gomer was likewise an unfaithful wife giving herself bodily to those willing to pay her in order to “worship” some god or goddess.

At God’s insistence, Hosea rescued his wife after she had somehow managed to become the slave of another. Perhaps a “client” had forced her to serve him after she had provided her illicit services for him. Alternately, operating under the assumption that she had previously been a “temple prostitute” operating independently outside of the temple, perhaps it was a matter of impressment. Those recognizing the “value” of her services, forced her to ply her trade in a venue that readily offered such services for their patron deity; essentially, Gomer became a literal temple prostitute. That Gomer had become a slave is deduced from the fact that Hosea had to pay a “slave’s price” to bring her back home again (cf. Hosea 3:1-2). Despite any humiliation or betrayal that Hosea may have felt, he did truly love Gomer. Thus, God was giving an opportunity for Hosea to love her again. In fact, Hosea 3:1 states: “Then the LORD said to me, ‘Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes'” (NASB). Therefore, Hosea came and sought her out again.

Upon her return, though, Gomer became a “kept woman.” Hosea isolated her so that she could no longer give herself over to another as a prostitute (cf. Hosea 3:3ff). This likewise symbolically served as a visceral sign of the captivity that would soon befall Israel. The aim was that her isolation would make Gomer appreciative of her husband so that she would learn to return his love. Likewise, Israel’s captivity would serve to make her faithful to God once more. It is sad that such things are sometimes a necessity, but, of course, we understand that they are. We know that this tactic worked with Israel. Unfortunately, we do not know if accomplished as much in the heart of Gomer. People are often more fickle in their dealings with another person than they are with God. With God, it becomes more a matter of faithful service or total indifference. There isn’t usually the strange middle ground of oscillating emotions that seem to bind two people together, as well as challenge them.

In defense of Gomer, and a departure to the reference from Mr. Holmes’ lyrics utilized above, we need to point out that a woman’s soul is not “created below.” In no way was I seeking to imply such. It is natural, though, to feel as if the adulterous spouse is completely evil. Those cheated on may indeed conclude that the devil, not God, is responsible for providing one with an unfaithful spouse. (I am sure that amongst the readers of this article are those able to relate to this sentiment?)

Oh, how much Gomer must have dazed and confused Hosea. Yet, he still loved her. Thanks be unto God that He loves us much more! He loves us so much that He willingly gave us His Son to accept the penalty that we were due (cf. Isaiah 53:5; Romans 3:24-26; 4:25; 5:6-10; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 5:2; 1 Peter 3:18).

Let us so live that we do not daze and confuse our God, a God Who loves us beyond measure!

[1] “History of Prostitution.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia, 4 June 2010. Web. 10 Sept. 2010.                   <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_prostitution&gt;.

[2] Ibid

[3] “Statistics.” Enough Is Enough: Protecting Our Children Online. Enough Is Enough. Web. 10 Sept. 2010.                 <http://enough.org/inside.php?tag=statistics&gt;.

[4] “History of Prostitution.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia, 4 June 2010. Web. 10 Sept. 2010.                   <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_prostitution&gt;.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.